This is for all the lovelies out there just trying to get a tasty dinner on the table – you know who you are. It isn’t fancy, but the bright ginger, fresh asparagus, rich pork, and hearty brown rice make for a deeply satisfying dinner after a long, hard day. You start cooking the pork and asparagus while the rice and egg cook, so while there is sort of a lot going on at once, much of it is hands-off.
This – and by “this” I mean a bowl of rice with stuff on it – is a favorite around our house. I’m partial to the ground pork and asparagus combo, but greens, butternut squash, and minced chicken has its fans, as does the tofu, peas, and spinach combo I’ve broken out on occasion.
2 cups short-grain brown rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs (optional)
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup sake or white wine (optional)
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce, plus more to taste and/or for serving
2 bunches asparagus or similar amount (lots) of your favorite vegetable
1 piece ginger, about 4 in. long
3 cloves garlic
8 green onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
Cilantro for garnishing
Bring 4 cups water, the rice, and the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until tender to the bite, about 35 minutes. Or, do as I do and set it all up in a rice cooker and forget all about it.
While the rice is cooking, cook everything else. First things first: Hard boil the eggs. I use Julia Child’s method and it turns out a perfect egg every single goddamn time: put eggs in a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling – not just tiny bubbles along the edges of the pan, but big bubbles coming up all over – cover the pan, turn off the heat, and let sit 14 minutes. Drain and peel the eggs under cool running water. Slice and set aside.
While the eggs are cooking, put the pork in a medium bowl and pour the sake or white wine and the tamari or soy sauce over it. Mix gently and let sit until you’re done with the eggs.
If you still have some time waiting for the eggs, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and cut the spears into bite-size pieces (or peel/chop/prep whatever vegetable you’re using).
Now grate the ginger, mince the garlic, and chop the green onions.
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of the oil and the pork and cook, stirring once in a while, until the pork is about half-way cooked – some is cooked through and some isn’t and none if it is starting to brown yet. Add 3/4 of the grated ginger. Stir in the ginger and cook until the pork is cooked through and starting to get brown in some spots.
Transfer the pork to a bowl or plate and cover to keep warm. Return the pan to the stove and add the remaining tablespoon of oil, the remaining ginger, garlic, and green onions. Cook, stirring, until the fragrances blend, about a minute. Add the asparagus, stir to combine, add 1/4 cup of water, cover, and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 4 minutes (other vegetables may take longer).
While the asparagus cooks, chop or mince the cilantro.
The rice should be done now. Divide the rice between four deep cereal or chili bowls. Top with asparagus, pork, and a sliced hard boiled egg. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with tamari or soy sauce on the side for people to add to taste. We put various hot sauces and hoisin on the table at our house, too.